Here at Preen, we’re fully aware that adult life doesn’t always go as smoothly (and look as beautiful) as curated Instagram feeds. We all face challenges amidst all the good things. Meet Mikka Wee, a former food editor-turned-working gal in Singapore, who’s about to share all the ups and downs that come with adulting and living. Welcome to Bless This Mess!
I’ve made it a point whenever I have some time, usually during my off-days (we operate with off-days in F&B because we work weekends), to carve out a few hours to “sharpen the saw.”
The first time I encountered this phrase was when I picked up my copy of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey (Steve Covey’s son) when I was 13 or 14, and I guess it stuck with me. According to Steven Covey, “Sharpening the Saw” is an analogy for a woodcutter who is sawing for several days straight and is becoming less and less productive. So “sharpening the saw,” according to him, is about finding time to replenish and recharge so you can maximize your greatest asset—yourself.
However, I’ve taken a slightly different approach to what “sharpening the saw” means, and to me, it’s also about refining your tools to help them perform at their peak. This means, taking a book about a skill I want to improve on, and jotting down notes for every learning nugget I come across. I thought I’d share with you some titles that have helped me (and are helping me) in the “adulting” process in terms of skill-building. Take a look!
1. Minimalist Budget by Zoe McKey (Budgeting)
This is a great book to read if you’re keen on having a fuss-free budget plan but don’t know where to start. What I liked about this book was its straightforwardness about the reality of managing money—not the easiest thing for me, but I’m making progress thanks to the simple ideas presented in this book. One of the things that stuck to me was the minimalist 50/20/30 budget rule where you allocate 50 percent of your income for essentials, 20 percent for savings, and 30 percent for personal expenses.
2. Radical Candor by Kim Scott (Work Empowerment)
I’m still in the middle of reading this book, but what it has taught me so far is how to make my voice heard in my workplace, while at the same time, allowing others to be heard as well. I’ve worked in companies where politics really take over the workplace, to the point that project directs come in proportion to whose voice is heard. This can cause a lot of discouragement and loss of confidence amongst employees and colleagues. At the same time, it teaches you how to be open, understand what motivates your team, and lastly, drive results together.
3. Rework by Jason Fried (Changing Your Work Perspective)
I read this during my early twenties, and I’m glad I was exposed to this book during my early years as a young working professional. Remember the term “yuppie”? Jason Fried understands the psyche of millennials and how we run the workplace. In this book, he challenges perspectives and chops up lengthy material into bite-sized, easy-to-absorb pieces so they’re easier to chew and digest.
It was enlightening to stumble upon a book that encourages a bit of a rebellious streak with the way we do work, as compared to by-the-book practices.
4. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek (Leadership)
We are all leaders in one way or another, and Simon Sinek dissects and discusses the core of leadership—putting others first, caring about others first, and taking one for the team. Good leadership isn’t only about the promotion, it’s also about how you manage your team’s well-being and how you acquire a heightened sense of responsibility by placing their needs before yours.
5. The Make Your Mark Series by Jocelyn K. Glei (A Creative Guide for Your Career)
Planning to quit the corporate life and start your own business? Maybe you want to take bigger, bolder risks? Or how about just finding a creative routine that works for you? If you answered “yes” to any of the above or to all three, this series is for you.
The first book talks about how to build an impactful business, the second is about how to focus and sharpen your creative mind, and the third is about taking risks and building an incredible career.
I recommend reading all three because they’re all insightful in their own unique way.
6. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (Decluttering)
I was always skeptical about this book, until I finally picked up a Kindle copy and checked it out. To tell you the truth, I didn’t read all the parts of this book; I just read the introduction and jumped straight in the middle part where Kondo talks about the steps on de-cluttering.
I don’t know what made me do it, but I found myself briskly walking to the grocery and buying two boxes of garbage bags. After a full 20 hours, my room contained 20 percent of its original contents. The question that repeated itself in my head was the question “what gives you joy?” and that simplified the decision-making process.
7. Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller (Branding)
Donald Miller is one of the key authors whose works I read with much fervor during my early twenties. I like how he came up with a business book (haha) because it just makes a lot of sense for an amazing storyteller to write about how stories shape brands. I’ve always loved Miller’s brand of writing—it feels like he’s just across the table enjoying a cup of coffee with you—and it’s so nice to have that touch in a book that deepens your knowledge of storytelling through the brand you champion.
I hope these reads help you find what you’re looking for if ever you’re searching for some new reads that can help boost your knowledge about certain adulting skills! Drop me an email at email@example.com, or leave a note in the comments section for any other recommended reads.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.
Art by Yayie Motos